Boat anchoring is a skill and can sometimes be seen of as something of a dark art. But in truth, with a few tricks it can be made much easier, giving you the restful night on the hook that you have always dreamed of
When it comes to boat anchoring many different people have their own view on the best boat anchoring techniques to use. Mostly these will revolve around what equipment you use. What type of anchor do you prefer, how much chain you have ready to put out etc.
But nothing helps more when it comes to boat anchoring than knowing that the tips you are reading have been used in the real work and are proven to be effective.
Our panel of experts really know their stuff when it comes to boat anchoring and these are all tips on anchoring that have been tried in the real world and definitely work.
Stowing the anchor while underway – Randall Reeves
I have frequently found myself days into a passage before I recall to get the anchor off the bow and stowed below.
Attempting to lift a heavy anchor like Moli’s over or through the bow pulpit when a sea is running is a recipe for smashed fingers and a strained back.
One solution is to rig a line to the anchor (e.g. through the hole supplied for the tripline), then outside the bow and back to some convenient place forward of the chainplates.
Tie the line off to the rail or some other secure spot and then carefully lower the anchor with the windlass. The anchor should flow aft and come taut on the line, from whence it can be more easily lifted, hand-over-hand, on deck.
This process works well in reverse if, for example, you find yourself off the coast of Chile making fast for an unknown cove but with the anchor still in the hold.
Get out of an anchor chain jam – Francis Ursell
We had chartered a Bavaria 40 in Scotland and had anchored on the west side of Jura while awaiting the tide.
When raising the anchor, the anchor chain jumped off the roller and jammed on the side plate that supports the bow roller. Leaving a responsible crew at the helm, I walked forward to take a look. The chain was vertical in the water and taut.
There was too much drag for the windlass to lift the anchor and not enough weight on the anchor chain to pull more chain out when the crew pressed the ‘down’ button.
I told the crew to keep their fingers well away and called for some thin line to be brought from the cockpit.
Lying on the foredeck, I attached the line to the anchor chain a foot or so below deck level. I then attached the spinnaker halyard to the line.
It was a simple matter then to hold the halyard above the anchor chain while the crew in the cockpit winched the line, taking the weight of the anchor and leaving a bight of chain which another crew placed on the bow roller.
Have your anchor ready to go – Rachael Sprot
Merchant vessels never leave the dock without ensuring their anchors are ready to release. Because they can’t just sail out of trouble if they have engine failure, they need to be able to at least hold their position in deep water.
We yachties tend to forget this. RYA training drills into us that we should always be ready to sail out of danger if the engine fails.
But there are times when you can’t sail out of trouble, maybe on a lee shore, or when there’s little wind.
In this case, you’ll be glad to have secured your anchor in such a way that it is quick to drop if you need it.
Don’t sail without an anchor snubber – Vyv Cox
The use of a snubber to absorb shock loadings on an anchor chain is well known.
Shock loadings can occur due to wave action in exposed anchorages, movement of the boat fore and aft as the wind goes through gusts and lulls, and at the end of each lateral movement during yawing.
The introduction of a length of rope between the chain and bow roller has an additional benefit, which is eliminating the noise of chain dragging across the bottom as the boat ranges about.
In winds above about 20-25 knots, all of the chain will be off the bottom, forming a near-straight line between bow roller and anchor.
There is thus no catenary to provide shock absorption, a job that rope with plenty of elasticity will do well.
Shock transferred to the anchor would be highly likely to lead to the anchor dragging. The simplest design of snubber is a single nylon rope with a chain hook. This is very easily fitted and retrieved.
My nylon snubber, shown here in combination with my kedge on Anchorplait in a fork moor in gale force winds, has been used extensively without problems for many years.
If lying to anchor stern-to a quay, it is desirable to unload the windlass. Unloading is good for the windlass gearbox and prevents the boat from moving aft due to clutch slipping or the chain jumping the gypsy, either of which will result in the boat hitting the wall, potentially causing serious damage.
Elasticity in the snubber is now highly undesirable. Heavy strong rope is what is needed to hold the boat in place.
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